I have been reading various reports about ‘Hemorrhaging Faith’; here in Canada and in the United States. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada produced a report by that name last year. And the Southern Baptists have engaged in introspective navel gazing in response as statistics of declining membership etc catch up with the reality of their loss of spiritual vitality some time ago. Empirical statistics are always, at best, lagging indicators in a spiritual setting. Sometimes, they could be false indicators; as the leadership hierarchy roll out initiatives, which might inflate the numbers in a brief burst of ersatz spiritual fireworks.
I could give my own deep and comprehensive rendering of the problems. And I would probably be 90-95% correct. But my efforts would be of little use. This would be due partially to the fact that I would be perceived as an outsider in a variety of ways. Rebuke and reproach is only effective, at best, if the person addressed believes that one is, at heart, on their side; that the advice given is from someone who is genuinely interested in their welfare, apart from any personal benefit to the counselor. Loyal criticism from one’s own is always preferred. Outside criticism sends the guard goes up. The wagons are circled.
A particular problem with SBC members is that they demonstrate fierce denominational nationalism and pride; not the type of attitude that is prone to self-doubt and introspection. And I have been acquainted with this proud and unbecoming sectarianism, which is particularly unique to Southern Baptists and puzzling to outsiders; in Israel, America and back here. I see something of the same in Conventional Baptists in Canada. But that is another story.